A national real estate association says it will be tough to sell a home in 2013, but those who do manage to sell will net higher prices than in 2012.

But one Kitchener realtor doesn’t see it that way, saying house prices will drop next year along with real estate sales volumes.

Mark Maurer, a longtime Kitchener real estate agent, says prices are in fact already dropping.

“This year, we’ve seen prices starting to fall as of August,” he says.

Maurer chalks the slump in the market up to new mortgage rules introduced this year, under which prospective homebuyers need higher down payments.

Additionally, mortgages must now be paid off in 25 years rather than 30.

Maurer says these two factors combine to eliminate some potential first-time buyers from the market.

The Canadian Real Estate Association agrees, saying it expects sales to fall by two per cent next year, following a half-point drop in 2012.

That’s after earlier projects of a two per cent increase for 2012. The organization point to the new mortgage regulations as the reason for the drop.

"Annual sales in 2012 reflect a stronger profile prior to recent mortgage rule changes followed by weaker activity following their implementation," said Gregory Klump, CREA's chief economist.

"By contrast, forecast sales in 2013 reflect an improvement from levels this summer in the immediate wake of mortgage rule changes. Even so, sales in most provinces next year are expected to remain down from levels posted prior to the most recent changes to mortgage regulations."

CREA it is more optimistic when it comes to prices, forecasting an average sale price of $365,100, up $1,200 from this year.

“I would say they’re overestimating their abilities a little bit when they’re projecting for price increases next year,” says Maurer.

Across the country, nearly 433,000 homes have traded hands through the MLS system so far in 2012, slightly below the 10-year average.

According to CREA, slow sales in major cities Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver were the main reason for the decline.

Maurer’s advice to those looking to enter the real estate market in 2013: It’s a good time to buy, but not a great year for sellers.

“I’d be thinking about getting it sold early in the year rather than later in the year, because I think prices are going to continue to drop a little bit,” he says.

With files from The Canadian Press